Best Friends


The Day - Sound & Country - - Behind the scenes at the zoo - By Karin Cromp­ton


It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine any­one more suited for their pro­fes­sion than James Mor­ri­son. That is, if “suited” means they get no­tice­ably giddy when dis­cussing their work, with an en­thu­si­asm that draws in oth­ers.

Mor­ri­son knows an aw­ful lot about wine – but in an ap­proach­able way. One gets the im­pres­sion that, although Mor­ri­son’s job is to teach oth­ers about wine and to sell it, that he feels a lit­tle bad for peo­ple who in­sist on spend­ing $300 for a bot­tle when they could drink some­thing fab­u­lous for a frac­tion of that..

Mor­ri­son’s mes­sage is sim­ple: Wine is fun. Be­ing a wine snob is not.

On a sunny morn­ing in May, Mor­ri­son hap­pily dis­cussed wine and cheese pair­ings, with two re­cur­ring themes:

1. Ev­ery­thing is sub­jec­tive. 2. Have a de­li­cious time.

We met in Westerly at The Wine Store, where Mor­ri­son worked for about seven years be­fore mov­ing on to a wine man­ager po­si­tion in Mil­ford. He cur­rently works at Friendly’s Dis­count Liquors in Whitinsville, Mass, which is part of the Macy’s Liquors fam­ily.

When con­duct­ing tast­ings, Mor­ri­son said he typ­i­cally pro­ceeds from soft and creamy cheeses to the harder, aged va­ri­eties. Sim­i­lar to wine, the re­gion a cheese hails from is im­por­tant not only to a good nar­ra­tive, but in dis­cern­ing its fla­vor as well. It’s also im­por­tant to note whether it’s cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk.

“The ori­gin and the an­i­mal are very im­por­tant be­cause they di­rectly af­fect the cheese fla­vor,” Mor­ri­son said.

Cow’s milk from the high al­ti­tudes of the Swiss Alps has a sweet, nutty fla­vor unique to the re­gion, for ex­am­ple, mak­ing high Alpine cow’s milk a source of pride.

If you’re look­ing for a theme for an up­com­ing get-to­gether, Mor­ri­son sug­gests pair­ing the wine and cheese by ge­og­ra­phy.

“One of my fa­vorite things to do with cheese and wine, (is) I like to pair where the cheese came from to the ori­gin of the wine,” he said.

So if he has a French cheese from a cer­tain area, Mor­ri­son said, he’ll find a wine from the same re­gion.

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